Awestruck. I am awestruck that the summer has passed so rapidly! Time certainly flies. A general topic that first comes to mind when I reflect on my RPC internship thus far is – drum roll – callings. I talked about it during college weekend at Rutledge. Including that weekend and week, the “churchy” phrase comes up in discussion and conversation a lot. Among the many biblical examples of individuals “following their call,” the individual who sticks out the most, for me, is Moses.
“Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then the Lord said said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’
But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.”’ God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you”:
This is my name for ever,
and this my title for all generations.”
At the close of my second year of seminary, I was at a place where doing college ministry apart from sports-related ministry seemed…interesting. It wasn’t something I was fully passionate about, but it seemed…interesting. So, going into the RPC internship, mixed emotions flooded my heart and mind. For one, I was excited to work in a place that was so familiar to me – the place where I hunted many Easter eggs, the place that led me to accept Jesus into my heart, the place where I probably caused a little trouble (with the help of my friends, of course), the place where the Carruth Trio often made debuts during services, the place that took me to Central America three times, the place that always accepted me. Although my memories of that church took me on a lovely trip down Memory Lane, they only comforted me so much.
I have to admit that I was more nervous than I was excited. Although I can compete, play, put up a good fight, and get dirty with the best of them, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to do the other stuff, like lead intellectual and heavy discussions. You know, those conversations on justification, sanctification, atonement theories, soteriology, original sin, retributive justice, those kind of topics. Or refer to scripture on a whim or hear scripture and know if it’s characteristic of a certain gospel writer or characteristic of a certain letter of Paul’s. I worried that my intellect would fail me. I was also worried that I would look back at the end of the internship and think, “Dang, I could have used that summer to make bank.” In other words, I wanted assurance one way or the other. Entering the internship, my prayer was that I would have affirmation that college ministry was something I needed to pursue alongside my original call or that college ministry was something I need not pursue.
The first time I led small group or Sunday school (I can’t really remember which came first) I remember feeling like I was meeting God face-to-face. My anxieties became very real, and it was terrifying thinking about the things that might be said wrong or the terribly awkward silence that might last for more than 5 seconds. But those worries and anxieties were laid to rest fairly quickly and with no signs of being awakened. I learned that I can lead those heavy discussions because I do know a little about those heady and heavy subjects and that I can refer to scripture (maybe not with perfect memory or as quickly as Billy Graham). I was witnessing the fruits of my labor (mainly seminary). And that call that initiated all of this ministry stuff (seminary) is a promise that God kept, keeps, and will keep.
Sometimes meeting God face-to-face can feel downright terrifying. It certainly was for Moses and it certainly was for me! But the God we worship is a patient and wildly creative God who knows us far better than we know ourselves. And the God we worship is a faithful God, the one “I AM” whose name lasts forever. So when you are anxious or afraid, when God’s call has taken you so far out of your comfort zone that you think you might have a panic attack, remember Moses. And then remember the words of the One who knows you best: “Fear not, for I am with you.”
PRAYER: God, forgive us for when fear, worry, and anxiety can easily consume us. Help us to see more clearly your calling for our lives and help us to live out those callings with confidence. Use us so that in following our callings we glorify you and help others. You are faithful, always, and for that we give you praise. In your name we pray, Amen.